Ripple effects of replacement officials – Green Bay vs Seattle

In the official NFL Play by Play it went down like this;

4Q (0:08) 4-10 GB24 Russell Wilson pass complete deep left to Golden Tate for 24 yards, touchdown.  GB 12 SEA 13.

The ripples

The Seattle crowd exploded after Referee Wayne Elliott confirmed what Seahawk fans “hoped” they had seen.  Twitter then blew up with angry reactions from every angle; fans, media, former players… you name it.

I then responded with my own tweet;

Ted Sundquist ‏@Ted_Sundquist

The #NFL and Ownerships will not counter their position as a result of ANY on field calls. Media/fans looking at short sighted picture here.

That in turn crashed my account with questions, concerns, and “How could you’s?” of which I tried to answer as many as possible.

Then the NFL gave its official statement that included, “The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.”

Everything in context

The angry reactions are understood, but the point is being missed.  The NFL and its 32 ownerships are in contentious negotiations with the NFL’s Officials.  I don’t pretend to know all of the details, situations and various scenarios that have gone on throughout the process.  Just like the draft pundits and prognosticators can’t begin to know exactly what’s going on in the War Rooms around the League prior to the NFL Draft.

What I do know is how the League operates.  General Managers around the NFL are tasked with putting together 53 man rosters that not only can compete now, but in the long term future.  At times it can be frustrating for both coaches and fans to have to wait for the process to play out, but GM’s have to stick with the plan.

The NFL Office is tasked with the long term health and well being of the game, as well the continuing construction of the “business” of pro football.  The 32 NFL owners go about building their organizations and competing at the highest level of American football in 32 totally different, yet somewhat similar ways.  At times it’s frustrating for owners and fans to wait for the process to play out, but the NFL has to stick with the plan.  Get it?

Realities of negotiating

This has nothing to do with one bad call, one bad game, or how loud the fans & press can scream over social media.  The NFL LOCKED OUT the officials.  That means they wouldn’t allow them to come back to work until they could come to an agreement that the NFL was comfortable with.

The League knew there would be officiating situations (problems) but was willing to live with it in the interim.  One play, one game, and even one season can’t get in the way of negotiating the best deal.  It’s a long term perspective versus a short term reaction.  If they buckle under this pressure they will never operate from a position of strength again, not in this negotiation or any other.

Did you know?

In 2008 NFL owners became concerned with the inconsistencies of the NFL Pension Plan.  For many years all 32 clubs had agreed to participate in a matching-type plan that became just too difficult to budget for after the collapse of the economy.   As a result, the owners voted on a ceiling to their own contributions and gave clubs the option to opt out entirely.  The League chose this angle as well.  Full time employees with years of experience in the NFL had their matching pension contributions pulled away.

Now the League’s Officials (part time employees) are asking for a plan similar to what was taken from full time workers; coaches, scouts, trainers, administrative personnel, etc…  How could Commissioner Roger Goodell, or anyone else involved from the League Office, look their own employees in the eye and say, “They can have, but you can’t”?

Furthermore, the Officials are balking at the addition of two reserve units that could be used to replace those Officials not performing up to standards.  Sound familiar?  Can you say “Teachers Unions”?  Right now the only real way for the League to show who’s doing a good job is through playoff assignments (bonus money).  Players get cut, coaches get fired, but officials are immune?  Coaches, scouts, and club staff don’t operate within a union and don’t have the leverage even the part-time officials do.  The onus here for a settlement should not be all on the NFL, there is room on BOTH sides to give.

And in the end we can all scream and holler at the top of our lungs, but the NFL knows this – you’ll be back.  Week 4 is just around the corner.